Volume 16 / No. 22   |  November 30,  2016
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Nueva Ecija Journal is published in
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Duterte opens Ecija mega drug rehab center

President Rodrigo Duterte flew to Fort Magsaysay last November 29 to inaugurate the country's biggest rehabilitation center for drug addicts, that is able to house as many as 10,000 patients once fully operational.

The facility was constructed inside the military camp with the help of donors, mainly Chinese billionaire Huang Rulun.

In his speech, the President said the new center, called the Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation center (DTRC) symbolizes the government's anti illegal drug campaign.

Duterte said illegal drugs remain a serious threat.

“Drugs are a very virulent agent in any society. The campaign against drugs will continue until the last day of my term. I will not stop until the last drug pusher is out of the street and the last drug lord or king killed,” he said.

Dr. Eric Tayag, Department of Health spokesperson, said DTRC would initially accommodate 2,000 patients but later on serve a maximum of 10,000.

Right-click on each photo and choose "View Image" or "Open Image".

[Malacañang photos.]

Chinese businessman expresses support for campaign vs. illegal drugs

The Chinese patron of the newly inaugurated Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in Fort Magsaysay expressed his support for President Duterte's campaign against illegal drugs.

Huang Rulun, chair of China's Century Resources Group, called illegal drugs "the common enemy of all mankind."

In his speech during the inauguration of the rehabilitation facility, Huang said the Philippines and China are close neighbors whose relationship will be "strong and everlasting" under the leadership of Duterte and China President Xi Jinping.

Huang said the first phase of the project, using 60,000 out of the 100,000 square meters allotted for the construction of two rehabilitation centers inside Fort Magsaysay, can accommodate 10,000 new patients and more than 1,.000 employees.

Huang was born to a poor family in Fujian, China. He was a small-time businessman in the Philippines in the 1980s, spending five years in the Binondo Chinatown before returning to China to establish Century Golden. ###

San Antonio ex-mayor, 11 others charged with plunder, graft

The former mayor of San Antonio and 11 others have been charged at the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman For Luzon for plunder and graft in connection with over P102 million worth of local projects of the previous administration  whose bidding was allegedly rigged and overpriced.

The complaints were filed by Luste's rival, incumbent Mayor Alvin Salonga.

Among the alleged anomalies cited by Salonga were the construction of a P52.1-million two-story commercial building, a P45-million slaughterhouse and integrated terminal complex and the purchase of an agricultural lot for P5 million.

Charged were former Mayor Antono Lustre, spouses Julito and Maritta Semacio, Engineers Eloy Castillo, Michael Galang, Renato Bustamante, Roberto Odulio, Julito Galang, Jr., Daisy Pili, Mercy Reyes and Constancia Salonga and Papisss Inc., represented by Engineer Pedro Perez.

Named respondents in the plunder case aside from Lustre,were Perez and Bids and Awards Committee chair Bustamante and members Juilito Galang , Pili, Reyes and Constancia Salonga.

For malversation, charged were Lustre, the Semacio couple, Eclar, Bustamante, Michael Galang, Odulio, Juito Galang  Pili, Reyes and Salonga.

In the commercial building project, Lustre was accused of entering into a contract with Papiss Inc., represented by Perez, on Dec. 29, 2015 without any authority from the Sangguniang Bayan (SB). The project was not specified in the annual budget and the bidding was rigged to favor Papiss 

In the slaughterhouse and terminal complex project, the complaint said that on June 6, 2014, Lustre entered into a contract with MB Eclar Trading and Construction represented by Michael Galang for its construction without any authority from the SB and likewise rigging the bidding in favor of Eclar. The project was also found to have been overpriced by P1.3 million.

In the case of the lot, the complaint stated that Lustre signed to purchase a lot in Barangay Santa Cruz for the slaughterhouse, terminal and commercial center for P5 million without SB authority, and despite the fact that the lot is under litigation, which price is way above its fair market value and without consulting first the provincial appraisal committee (PAC). The purchase was also done without a project study and without clearance from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) prior to the execution of the contract of sale. ###

Building of nuclear plant in San Jose proposed

The chief operating officer of San Jose City I Power Corp. suggested that the government abandon the controversial Bataan Nuclear Power Plant and build a new one in Nueva Ecija or some other place.

Edgardo Alfonso said one of the viable areas for the new nuclear plant is San Jose City where a number of power plants are already operating, including a biomass plant powered by rice husks.

The 12-megawatt, P1 billion biomass power plant is a joint venture of Lucio Co, who controls San Jose City 1 Power Corp. and owner of the Puregold chain of supermarkets, and 21 local rice millers.

The plant is in Barangay Tulat, an industrialized zone designated by the city government, where majority of the big rice mills are located. ###

Provincial agriculture official denies hoarding of onions

The head of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) denies claims that widespread onion hoarding  was the cause of the shortage of that product in Nueva Ecija, known as the onion capital of the Philippines.

Serafin Santos, OPA chief, explained that in August this year, the farmers' supply of onions ran out in the province since it was the harvest season.

He said that now, farmers have begun planting onions in their farms and are not affected by the current low price of the product in the province.

Santos explained that they tentatively used a stop-gap measure that allows the importation of onions from neighboring countries to prevent the steep rise of the price of the product in the provine while farmers continue to plant local onions.

“Ang talagang maaapektuhan nito ay yung mga traders at hindi ang mga magsasaka. Yung mga nakaimbak na sibuyas ngayon ay pag-aari ng mga traders at hindi ng mga magsasaka. Ganunpaman hindi sapat ang supply para i-accommodate ang pangangailangan ng sibuyas kaya nagkaroon ng pag-aangkat," he pointed out.

Santos said that in September, they received an advise from the Bureau of Plant Industry to conduct an inventory of current onion stocks. This was due to the fear that the supply may fall short because of the damage done by army worms during the last cropping season.

It was discovered that the current stocks in storage facilities would not be enough to meet the market demand.

“The onion traders were hurt and slighted. They were probably anticipating an increase in onion prices but prices went down instead due to the influx of imported onions.  But this is temporary. There is no cause for alarm even for traders.”  Santos explained. ###

Umali: Cabanatuan baratillo 'heartless and anti-poor'

Cabanatuan CityVice Mayor Emmanuel Antonio Umali called the setting up of a flea market or baratillo in the city's business district is "heartless and anti-poor".

He said the flea market has resulted in the closure of two busy market streets, heavy traffic and complaints from market stall holders and vendors that they are being deprived of the opportunity to more much during the Christmas season.

The flea market is operated by M.V. Lo, who had been issued a special permit by the city government in exchange for P37,500, but who charges flea market stall holders P50,000 each.

At the Sangguniang Panglungsod, councilors have clashed over the legality of the flea market, disagreeing on whether a public hearing should be held to allow Lo to operate.

SP Member Ruben Ilagan V, an ally of Mayor Julius Cear Vergara, said a public hearing is no longer necessary since the closure of the two city streets is only temporary.

SP Member Nero Mercado, an ally of Umali, said a public hearing should be held to get the sentiments of affected stall holders in the public market.He said previous flea markets thrived because no one in the city council opposed it, including former Vice Mayor Marius Garcia, a party mate of Vergara.

Umali cited a Supreme Court ruling in the cases of Makati City and Parañaque City that flea markets are not allowed to be set up on streets. ###

'Unang Sigaw ng Nueva Ecija' the movie?

A group of tourism officers plan to produce a movie on 'Unang Sigaw ng Nueva Ecija", the province's revoltd against Spanish rule on September 2, 1896 led by Generals Mariano Llanera and Pantaleon Valmonte.

The Association of Tourism Officers in Nueva Ecija (ATONE) has conferred with scriptwriters and historians for the proposed movie that could star Robin Padilla and his brother Rommel, both from Cuyapo.

Darmo Escuadro, ATONE president and San Jose City tourism officer, said another Novo Ecijano actor, Jason Abalos of Pantabangan, could also play a role in the movie.

“Many want to help us make the movie, which may be started in the first quarter of 2017,” Escuadro said.

The project is estimated to cost between P5 and P8 million. ###

San Jose City lights 'Unity Christmas Tree'

San Jose City residents witnessed the lighting of a giant Christmas tree at the city hall compound last November 18..

City Mayor Mario Salvador, his wife Veronica and sister Michaela Salvador-Violago, 2nd District representative, led the ceremonial lighting of the 60-foot Christmas tree at the city social circle.

Salvador said the activity, called "Liwanag ng Pasko sa Bagong San Jose", was symbolic, with the Christmas lights tied together serving to show city officials bound together for political unity.

He added that unity is the battle cry of the “New San Jose” after the highly divisive elections last May which saw him winning over a member of a long-reigning local political dynasty.

“These Christmas tree and lights should serve as enlightenment to all of us, public servants, so we can be unified and be lightened up in our efforts to solve the problems confronting our city,” he said in his speech.

The program also featjred songs and dances contributed by  Central Luzon State University and city schools and organizations, and the launching of the city's Christmas jingle and music video.

The Salvador couple, Violago, San Jose City Bishop Roberto C. Mallari and Fr. Edwin Bravo  opened a mini-bazaar at the area and the traditional Nativity scene. ###

Gapan businessman escapes slay try by nephew

A 64 year old Gapan City businessman survived an assassination attempt allegedly by his nephew and an accomplice last November 21.

Supt. Peter Madria, city police chief, identified the victim as Leopoldo Alfonso of Likod Street, Barangay San Nicolas.

He sustained a gunshot wound in the neck when fired upon by two motorcycle-riding men at 9:20 A.M. and was rushed to Good Samaritan Hospital for emergency treatment.

Madria said Alfonso later identified his nephew, Darwin Alfonso of Barangay Malapit, San Isidro, as one of the suspects. The nephew later surrendered to the police.

The victim was driving his white Toyota Fortuner when the suspects appeared and fired once, hitting him in the neck.

The victim managed to evade the attackers by driving into the compound of a certain Alexander Mangahas. ###

Jail officer shot dead on Gapan bridge

A jail officer driving a tricycle on his way to his assignment in Baliuag, Bulacan was shot and killed by two motorcycle-riding suspects near the Gapan end of the Dona Josefa Bridge at 4:45 A.M. last November 21.

The victim was identified as SJO3 Melanio Moulic, Jr. of Sitio Ilog, Barangay Mallorca, San Leonardo.

He was driving his tricycle  when repeatedly shot from behind by the suspects who sped away afterwards.

Investigators were still looking into the motive for the attack.###

Carranglan barangay councilman survives gun attack

A barangay kagawad was shot and wounded by motorcycle-riding men in Carranglan on the night of November 17.

Sr. Supt. Manuel Cornel, provincial  police director, identified the wounded victim as Ferrer Cayetano of Barangay Piut, who sustained gunshot wounds in the right chest and arm.

Investigation showed that Cayetano was attacked while sitting in front of his house in Sitio Guisang. Despite being hit, he managed to run for cover while the suspects fled.

Recovered from the scene were five caliber .45 shells and a slug.

Motive for the attack has yet to be established. ###

Robbers fail in Talavera pawnshop heist try

Unidentified robbers dug a tunnel into a pawn-and-money-changing shop in Talavera last November 18 but failed to take away anything.

Supt. Leandro Novilla, town police chief, said the robbery target was the 7MM Pawnshop and Money Changer in Barangay Matias owned by Fiscal Melvin Martinez, 38, of Barangay Esguerra.

The break in was discovered by pawnshop appraiser Olivia Astelero-Peralta and security guard Eric Saturno when they opened the shop at 8:30 A.M.

Investigation showed that the robbers first rented an adjacent apartment and began tunneling towards the pawnshop vault.

The break-in at 12:03 A.M. was recorded by a CCTV.. ###

Peñaranda worker nabbed for sexually harassing girl

A construction worker in Peñaranda was arrested for allegedly sexually harassing a five-year-old girl while he was roasting a pig last November 16.

The suspect was identified as Alex Pestaño, 43, single, of barangay Poblacion 3.

He was arrested by barangay tanods and turned over to the police after the girl's parents sought help.

The victim was playing with a friend outside a slaughterhouse when the suspect approached them and ordered them to take off their shorts and show him their sex organs.

Scared, the children obeyed.

The suspect then looked at their private parts then returned to his chore.

The suspect was placed under police custody and faces charges of violation of RA 7610. ###

Body of Gapan drowning victim found

The decomposing body of a girl was found along the bank of the Pampanga River in Cabiao last November 23.

The body, identified as that of Elaiza Blance of Barangay San Vicente, Gapan City, was discovered at 8:10 A.M. in Barangay Santa Isabel, Cabiao.

The body was described as nine to 12 years old, wearing only pink shorts and already in an advanced stage of decomposition.

The information on the discovery of the body was transmitted to the Gapan City police where a case of a missing girl had been reported.

The girl's father, Benjamin, later identified the body as that of his missing daughter. ###

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